The Basic Problem with Reforming a Church

The back and forth in the Church of England over the new "covenant" Evangelicals have proposed highlights the central problem that reforming or renewing any church has: without the explicit support of its hierarchy or other leadership, the effort is doomed to fail.

It’s a story that has been repeated too many times in chuch history.  From the Jansenists in France to Wesley in England (same Church of England) to the Old Believers in Russia to the Charismatic renewal in both Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches, the problem is the same: if those at the top are not in favour of what’s going on at the bottom, they will eventually grind down the movement by intimidating the fence-sitters and using their power to stifle the rest.  The result is that those who persevere find themselves either beaten into submission or out of the organisation altogether.

The fiction featured on this site is, in one sense, an extended reflection on what could take place if that kind of support were available.  But unfortunately such things are, in every sense of the word, fiction.  Evangelicals in the Church of England, like their counterparts in North America, are facing some very hard choices, choices compounded by the status of the CofE as a state church.  We are not optimistic as to their chances for success.

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